Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wikipedia

If you want information in this day and age, where would you go? If you're not ancient and technologically illiterate your answer should be...WIKIPEDIA. Wikipedia claims to have over 3,362,000 articles written in English. For an informational database, that is a pretty incredible number. But with a huge number like that and given that Wikipedia allows users to create, contribute and edit posts, how accurate is the information being disseminated? I'd like to think the information is pretty goddamn accurate, but then again I'm no expert on the subject. When looking at the articles on Wikipedia, I like to check the end notes first, if the sources seem viable (or scholarly) then I'm more likely to take the article seriously. If the sources are blog posts from an asshole like me, most likely that article is very biased and perhaps false. This is the whole issue with Wikipedia being taken seriously as a scholarly source, there is no authority that determines what is fact and what is not. I could go on there right now and make a post about myself claiming that at one point in my life I could fly and turn anything into gold. I could then cite a source that doesn't exist and voila, I would have created an article on Wikipedia that is false. I would never do such a thing because I am not a scumbag like that. It would be awesome if the people who posted on Wikipedia only used facts that were validated; but the truth is, there are people out there who are scumbags and will post false things just to post them. But with all this bad comes some good news, 90% of the edited pages on Wikipedia were done by the top 15% of most active editors on Wikipedia (according to Mikolaj Piskorski and Andreea Gorbatai). This is at least some indication that an "authority" exists on Wikipedia and that this "authority" is trying to make everything fact based. But when you have numbers of articles in the millions, it's unquestionable that some falsities will fall through the cracks. Hear what my Scottish Cousin Murdoch has to say...

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